Thoughts are things. This was written back in 1937 by Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich.” I’ve heard it before from yoga teachers, and you’ll find it in old manuscripts. It’s not an original idea, and you’ll see that people from the likes of Tony Robbins or other popular personal growth coaches tout the concept regularly. And there’s reason for it.
What are you creating in your life, if thoughts are things? How do you guard the gates of your mind?
This came to life for me as I started going back to the gym. I had gone regularly before the pandemic shut down the world, struggled with constant soreness, and didn’t seem to be making headway on losing any weight. In fact the more I went, the stronger my depression, sleep challenges, slow healing times, and headaches became.
I didn’t get it until I went back and observed my thoughts. The doorway to my mind was as unguarded as the mouth of a coffee addicted workaholic. The flow of judgement and criticism flooded my mind. I was so sore after my first four workouts. Not the usual soreness that goes away after 48 hours. This is the soreness that lasts a week and you can’t walk down stairs without gripping handrails, and you wish you had a handicap rail next to the toilet. And I was working out at 40% capacity to prevent significant pain.
Isn’t exercise supposed to make you feel GOOD?! Exercise releases endorphins that actually decrease pain and create a sense of overall wellbeing. When you experience stress, cortisol is released in the blood, which is something that happens AFTER exercise naturally. This isn’t bad, because cortisol has anti-inflammatory qualities. When you have too much of it though, it causes tissue break-down and all of the things I listed previously.
And in those few weeks of my going back with an unguarded mind, I stopped sleeping well, headaches returned, and I had moments of depression that I’d rather not recount.
When I think about this, I begin to connect dots and wonder if going to the gym is harming me more than helping me because I’m not guarding the thoughts that enter my mind. I’m the one creating the pain in my body while exercising because my thoughts are putting me in a constant state of fight or flight. In fact, all of these negative thoughts that run my brain to exhaustion are causing a cascade of hormones that may be underlying the things that keep me from being the best me possible.
Thoughts are things.
In yoga, we talk about the act of non-harming. There’s a Christian version as well about your neighbor. Well, that neighbor is also your mind. The one “person” you spend the most amount of time with. It’s this “person” that creates your world. If you take that externally, that can also be the five people you spend the most time with.
This is important during the isolation of the pandemic. If you live alone or with people you don’t like to interact with, you likely started going to media outlets to occupy your down time. What happened to the gates of your mind then? What you watch, read, scroll, or listen to all enter the subconscious and create effects or impart ideas onto your belief systems.
Listening to “The Body is Not an Apology” by Sonya Renee Taylor has opened my mind to a lot of these pieces. Body positivity is actually not something marketers want you to have. In fact, the trillion-dollar business of beauty products relies on you constantly comparing and criticizing yourself. Creating a need for all sorts of things to look and feel better, that are typically unnecessary . Have you made a recent purchase because you think you’re better when you look a certain way? It’s how you feel in your skin that matters most.
Did you know some people don’t go to the gym because they don’t have the right clothes? I have a hell’s worth of demons leading my self-talk when I go to the gym, and the part of my workout clothes I’m worried about is whether or not by boobs make a slapping noise when I’m jumping or if my pants are riding up my crotch. All of which I worry about before I get concerned about how my workout is going.
That in itself is the self-criticism of my body. Feeling that I’m too large breasted to do high impact workouts, worried that some guy is going to point out how my pants are slipping, or worse yet, that I have boob sweat that makes my torso look like a smiley face. I’m working to enhance my wellbeing, not to be shamed for sweating more than the bodybuilder next to me. Guarding my thoughts is being proud of every drop of sweat that is created because I’ll be able to carry my ten year old son up the stairs and play with him long past my midlife.
Thoughts are things.
We all have them. We all have those voices that reinforce beliefs that may not actually be ours. It’s when these voices go unchecked that we have serious problems. You’ll know that they’re going unchecked when you stop connecting to living a life that touches your heart. It’s when you stop feeling love, or your association with love is harming to your sense of self. It’s when you no longer know the difference between ‘acceptance’ and ‘unfettered.’ Look it up, it’s a pretty amazing concept.
So, you may be one of those people who can envision a magician at the gates of your mind and she does all the work to keep the negative thoughts at bay. If you’re like me, you have a fortress with dragons waiting patiently behind a moat big enough to hold a thousand fire-breathing megalodons. If I don’t visualize it or stop the thoughts with one burst of flame, nothing holds them back. It’s diligence and commitment to maintain a healthy mindset. This type of diligence allows room to create your life instead of react to what comes your way.
It’s important to choose a thought to replace the negative ones that creep in. You could make fun of the thought and repeat it out loud in a silly voice, or act out the tantrum of a 4-year-old shouting out the thought. You could write down thoughts that you KNOW are true and choose one to focus on ever day or week until it becomes an automatic response (I chose “My body experiences the fullness of life” which triggers a reminder to fully feel what I’m experiencing, which isn’t limited to shame or joy). If you need a resource to dismantling beliefs, visit www.thework.com by Byron Katie.
Self-love begins when you stop listening to and surrounding yourself with people and things that pass beliefs and values that don’t resonate with your authentic truth.
And sometimes it takes being alone long enough to step out of and start observing the voices in your head and who’s voice is actually speaking. Many times, you’ll find that it’s not your own or it’s one that you shaped from a circumstance that is no longer true for you.
It’s time to be the creator of your life. Be the one that makes a difference for yourself first. You’re the only one who can do that. You’ll be surprised at how thoughts are things, and the way in which you indulge or engage in thoughts begins to create your external life. It’s that internal life that is the seed for a life well lived. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want that deep down.
Emily Kamala, MA, RMT, CHWC is a Freelance Copywriter with over 20 years in the Wellness Industry. Drawing from her practitioner experiences, she’s able to coach you into the heart of your business and put it in words that compel and connect to your audience. Visit her website at www.ConsciousLivingLLC.com for more examples of her work. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram